Wonder. The word invokes emotions of delight, enthusiasm, excitement, and delicate curiosity. It is awe, enjoyment, amazement, and laughter.
I see it in my thirteen-month-old son's eyes as I load laundry into our front-load machine. With one hand in mine (and eyes that look a little unsure) and one hand on the thick, clear, circular door, he watches the wet, sudsy clothes spin round and round and round, feeling the machine's whirring, hearing its whooshing, absorbed in the colorful undulations of clothes, water, and bubbles.
I saw it in his eyes when he rode in an airplane at eight months old, watching the ground melt away, rising to meet the sun, feeling the heavy force that comes from an upward thrust at an incredibly high speed. He had been in airplanes before, but this time was different- this time he wondered at this miracle of flight.
I see it when we bike to the grocery store together- his face a transparent sea of emotion as he takes in the world we cycle through, noticing every detail.
Moving from an area of the US where owning a car by the time you can apply for a license was standard, it was difficult to come to terms with not having an easily-accessible vehicle to use to run errands or to visit friends. It quickly turned from novelty to mundane to irritation. We live in a beautiful place where the majority of people bike to and from their daily activities, but as an American it was a difficult cultural standard to adjust to. I began to dread each trip to the grocery store. Each errand that popped into my head was followed by an internal groan. Whether or not I'd go into the city to explore or relax was decided by whether or not I actually felt like bundling up (from late September through late June/ mid July it's rainy and chilly), dragging my bike out of the storage unit, and peddling either one mile to the nearest tram or bus stop or four miles into the center of Amsterdam. It became a drudgery for me; it was something I came to hate.
Then baby Kev arrived.
Having a child saturates a world previously unknown to be dull with an explosion of color. Everything is fuller. Everything becomes new. Things that used to be mundane or standard suddenly become bright and interesting. With a baby there's an intimate understanding that everything they're seeing and doing is being seen and done for the very first time. The way the sun hits a diamond ring and throws sparkles across the ceiling, the way a grinder sounds when grinding the beans for morning coffee, the sweet taste of a juicy watermelon, the feel of warm water flowing out of a faucet through tiny fingers, the feeling of water splashing beneath tiny palms, the contrast of dark tunnels lit by warm electric lights versus the bright sky as we drive down a highway, and the curious non-tactile experience of the discovery of a shadow. Seemingly insignificant experiences hold infinite wonder. Being the parent of a new baby is an incredible gift. As parents, we get the pleasure of introducing a brand new human to the curiosities and delights of this world.
Baby Kev loves riding in his seat on the back on our bikes. We put him in the cushioned seat, buckle the harness around his body, and strap his feet into the stirrups. He gives us toothy, squinty-eyed grins as he watches us mount the bike seat. We push off and he squeals and babbles, assuming we can understand his delighted outburst of conversation. We pass canals, rowhouses, cars, ducks, dogs, neighbors, and other bikers during our rides, and he smiles and waves at everyone and everything. He calls out 'Bir!' when he sees any form of flying fowl, and points insistently until I acknowledge his observation. When he rides behind his daddy and I ride beside, he holds his hand out for me to grab. This is hard to resist and dangerous to attempt, but his sweetness steals my fears and steels my resolve. We hold hands for a few seconds before he spots another feathered friend and lets go to point, and the cycle resumes: point, wave, reach, point, wave, reach.
Through being mommy to Kev, God has opened my eyes again to the small wonders of my daily life. What fun it is to be in the open air, seeing ducks in the canal and trees swaying in the breeze, waving to neighbors and calling out greetings.
Yesterday we took the bus to church after first biking a mile to the bus stop. When we left it was crisp, bright, and sunny. When we returned to the bus stop that afternoon however, clouds had rolled in and rain started pouring. The crisp air was replaced by a definite chill as the icy rain pelted our faces. Ordinarily this ordeal would be extremely irritating, but with 14 month old Kev in the ergo on my back something shifted. Hearing his delighted laughter and seeing his tiny hand reaching for the drops as we sped down the road warmed my heart and the discomfort was quickly forgotten. It was hard to wish the rain away when my boy was loving every drop of rain and savoring every new sensation.
Wonder. It changes everything.